Tag Archives: bar

Father’s Office

I’ve heard the place Father’s Office thrown around many times, but always thought of it as more of a bar. Upon arrival it has a noisy bar section on one side, but a lovely dining section to your left.

Father’s Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant actually has a 1920’s theme, which I wasn’t aware of until I saw the waitresses dressed in sparking black dresses with fancy headpieces. “Speakeasy” refers to places that served alcohol illegally in the 20’s in America, as it was prohibited.
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It was early in the night, so still a little empty, but it allowed me to admire the decor, with the main wall’s photo (above) providing a true vintage feel. In addition to this, the blue water glasses really provided a nice colour that subtly complimented the colour of the walls.

Continuing with the theme, the menu is presented like an olden day newspaper with the unique cocktails on the front whilst the inside is full of various American and pub meals..and plenty more drinks. The menu had a similar feel to my previous visit to New Orleans inspired Po’ Boy Quarter, with items such as New Orleans Cajun Chicken Wings, however Father’s Office’s influences felt a little broader.

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20140322_190857Their drinks menu had some entertaining descriptions and I thought I couldn’t drop by this place without trying a drink. So I went for a Granny’s Blackberry Press ($15, right), perhaps swayed by the description “An instant favourite with some of our prettier customers”, allowing me to deduce that its popular with the ladies! It consists of blackberry, creme de mure, limoncello, apple juice and mint. All those flavours mixed so well, with the prime flavour being blackberry. It’s quite fruity and was presented in a lovely fashion, so my other friend ditched her sparkling wine and we ordered another one!

We all ended up getting burgers – I was particularly determined on getting one as I had been craving one that week. It was a tough choice, but I went with the pork belly burger ($19, below), which included brioche bun, apple and pear compote, cos lettuce, Dijonaise dressing and Victorian pork belly. Secretly, I was hoping that it would live up to the pork belly burger at Strange Wolf, which has sadly closed.

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In my excitement, I didn’t realise the apple part was “compote”, usually pieces of fruit soaked in syrup and spices. It provided a strange mushy texture to my burger, which I didn’t enjoy too much. I was expecting crunchy pieces of apple, but that’s my fault for not reading properly (and maybe not knowing what compote meant until I wrote this blog). The pork belly was not bad but didn’t feature as much crackling as I would have liked.

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The chips were classic French fries and were addictive, but I’ve always preferred my chips thickly cut. I know this isn’t the tradition for American food though but I did love the the accompanying mayo in a cute little jar on the side.

My other friend chose the fried chicken burger ($15, above), crispy buttermilk battered chicken thigh with purple pickled coleslaw and Dijonaise mayonnaise. The chicken lived up to its description as it was cooked just right, it was crispy, juicy and buttery. My friend absolutely loved it, whilst I had a try and felt the same, but she felt there was too much of the purple coleslaw.

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Finally, I had joked to my friends about the ‘Man burger’ and next thing you know two of them ordered it! The Man burger ($20, above) comes with fried Dijon mustard, black Angus patty, Swiss cheese, beer battered fries, more cheese, a fried egg and bacon. I looked at my burger, and then their’s and instantly felt the food envy. It looked great, but my friends felt the taste of the Dijon mustard was a bit overwhelming in the burger.

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Overall, the meals and atmosphere were great. The burgers were good and although they weren’t as big or amazing as I expected, they satisfied our burger cravings and made us content. There are little things in the burgers that didn’t suit us as individuals, but seem unique from other places and seem to be pleasing the crowds.

Father’s Office is located at 249 Little Lonsdale St and is open Mon-Thurs 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-3am and Sun 11am-midnight. You can find their menus here.

Father's Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Modern Asian Restaurants: Fumanchu

Fumanchu has come up in my food searches before, but I’ve always been weary due to reviews about service and the fact that it’s related to Miss Chu, which I’m not a big fan of. But, as I felt like trying a breakfast with a twist, I thought the risk might pay off. Not to mention the place is conveniently located in the northern suburbs.

20140316_124235There is no sign at the front to indicate that you’ve reached the right place and when we walked in, we thought we had walked into a bar in the middle of the day. The place emanated a pub atmosphere with its pink neon lights and walls lined with alcohol. However, the waitress assured us we had reached Fumanchu, so we decided to sit alongside the window bench, which displayed more of typical cafe decor than the front counter.

20140316_114612 copyMeanwhile, the artwork of the seats along the bench displayed some sort of mid-20th century Asian film poster images. This made more sense after a quick Google search, discovering Fu Manchu as the name of a fictional character with an iconic moustache.20140316_115731 To start with, I ordered a mango juice whilst my friend ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee. My mango juice appeared to be freshly made as it didn’t feel full of extra sugar usually in bottled juice. The coffee surprisingly came out in a traditional fashion, with the Vietnamese coffee filtered and dripping into the condensed milk. After this, you pour it into your glass of ice. It was impressively presented but time consuming when you desperately want to drink your coffee! It was also quite strong for my liking.20140316_120931

As a fan of this Japanese food, I couldn’t go past the Japanese Okonomiyaki Pancakes ($17, above) from the ‘Something Different’ menu. It comes with shredded cabbage and peas inside the pancakes and is served with house cured salmon and wasabi mayo.

The pancakes tasted different to the ones you would get in a foodcourt, which seem to have more of a filling. However, this felt freshly made and a bit healthier with an abundance of peas. They were adequately sized to go with the salmon. The salmon provided a complimenting texture and flavour to the pancakes, which could have been a little plain on its own.

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My friend was tossing up between the Asiaotic Saute Mushrooms and the Asian Omelette ($15, above) and ended up choosing the latter with extra mushrooms. The omelette consisted of wok-tossed free-range eggs, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), Asian herbs and roti bread topped with fried shallots.

I didn’t realise the omelette would be served wrapped in roti bread, which was interesting. I also enjoyed that the side of mushrooms was a mix of different mushrooms including enoki, providing a proper Asian air to the dish. With egg and Chinese sausage, the dish incorporated many ingredients already familar to me so it filled me up well, but it wasn’t outstanding.

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I was glad I gave Fumanchu a chance as it ended up providing quite decent food. The service was okay but not horrible, it can just be a bit difficult catching someone’s attention because the place is quite spacious. The tables around me were packed when I arrived around 11.30am but empty by the time I left (pictured above).


Image courtesy of their Facebook – some lovely artwork I noticed on a wall before I left.

They also serve dinner with more recognisable Vietnamese meals such as pho (rice noodle soup) and bun (vermicelli noodles) but I’m still dubious about the authenticity, especially when they also serve non-Vietnamese dishes such as mee goreng. I’m happy to try Asian inspired dishes but when it comes to traditional food you’d have better for cheaper in Footscray or Springvale. That being said, I haven’t actually tried it so if any one has tried their dinner food please tell me about it in the comments!

Fumanchu has changed its name to Chumanchu but it doesn’t feel too official with their name still the same on Facebook. The restaurant is open Tue-Sun 8am-10pm and is located at 2 Gilbert Road, Preston. Check out some old versions of their breakfast menu here and takeaway dinner menu here.

Fu Manchu on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Seamstress

Another night, another modern asian place, but at least this time the flavours were slightly more unique and varied from the other places in this series. Seamstress is easy to walk straight past, located upstairs on Lonsdale St with its coffee shop Drystore Espresso on the ground floor and its bar Sweatshop located underneath.

It’s relatively small with the skinny room apparently being able to fit about fifty people. However, it didn’t give off a vibe of feeling cramped and we enjoyed the flowers hanging in test tube vases from the ceiling (unfortunately didn’t get a good photo as can be seen below). We were seated promptly as I had booked and I found their service swift and enjoyable all night.

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With two of my friends, we chose a dish each and agreed on one more. One aspect of the service that slightly concerned me was that they have a small, large and medium size of each dish, which seemed quite convenient at first. But instead of asking you to choose, they say they will judge on our behalf after they look over our order and proceeded to ask how hungry we are on a scale of 1-10. Although this could be seen as handy to some people, I don’t think a restaurant can ever judge how much I can eat…but more on that later.

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The first dish was the most inventive and its taste did not disappoint, the duck rice crepe money bag, roast duck breast, black garlic, & plum sauce (above). It was styled exactly like a money bag, tied with some greens. The crepes were nice and soft and the plum sauce was not overwhelming and sweet, but just a touch was enough to compliment the dish.

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Keen on some seafood, we also had the maple seared scallops, smoked rainbow trout, crispy shallot, apple salad with a Nam Jim dressing. The scallops were pleasantly juicy and the apple was quite dominant in the salad, providing a light and refreshing meal.

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Perhaps I have an underlying desire in my subconscious to try all the pork belly dishes in Melbourne because I went with the 12 hour braised Berkshire pork belly, jicama salad & kohlrabi kimchi (above). The pork was OK, not flavoursome on its own, and a little chewy to my friends. On the other hand I found the texture fine and I enjoyed the crackling. The kimchi was lightly spicy and the sauce tasted like any ordinary Asian chilli sauce, thus I think the best part of the dish was the kimchi, which wasn’t just traditional kimchi.

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Last up was the caramelised eggplant with red miso & silken tofu sauce, crispy spice crusted firm tofu & toasted sesame seeds. It had plenty of soft, eggplant pieces and and some hidden pieces of tofu. The flavour mainly came from the silken tofu sauce, which proved to be as sweet as we expected the plum sauce in the first dish to be. Consequently, this was a bit too sweet for us to eat without rice to balance it out, although it did ensure we were full by the end of the night.

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I also enjoyed a cocktail from their extensive drinks list called Apricot Rickey ($15, bad picture above), a delicious thirst-quencher with Apricot Liqueur and fresh lime juice served tall with soda water. It was a nice fruity, mixed drink, perfect for a weak person like me.

I could have had room for  dessert but my friends were quite full after the last sweet dish, proving that Seamstress’ sizing for meals was quite accurate for normal people like my friends, but perhaps not me. They were attentive for most of the night, although our meal slowed down a little midway and we were getting a bit hungry, but as our concerns heightened, the dishes came out.

Seamstress is open Mon-Fri 12-3pm for lunch, Mon-Thurs 5.30-9pm and Fri-Sat 5.30-10.30pm. Check out their website for their other opening hours for their various levels and their menu.

Seamstress on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Cookie

Upstairs on Swanston St, Cookie has been on my list for a while as it’s never been too far away. I was almost turned off from going there merely from a rude waiter on the phone, who snapped that he’s full on Friday night and doesn’t have any room.

However on the Friday, it seemed some online booking spots became free so I snapped one up and crossed my fingers that our service wouldn’t be as rude. Luckily, we were served by a lovely young lady and seated after a few minutes, as it was a bustling Friday night. Due to this though, the bar and restaurant was packed and the atmosphere was very much…LOUD.

It’s very dark but the dining tables are lit up with a single candle, providing romantic and dim lighting. The menu is a reasonable size, but I feel their drinks list is even longer. One of the first dishes we ordered was the sour pork belly salad with ginger, peanuts & curried rice balls ($21.50, bottom left).

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I think the pork was inside the rice balls, not separate (correct me if wrong). Either way, the idea is to break up the rice balls and mix everything together in order to enjoy the salad (end result below). The texture is similar to minced meat, it was different and had light flavours, the curry not really that strong, but this seemed suitable for a salad.

Next up we had the steamed mussels with lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, coriander & chilli ($19.50 for half a kilo, bottom right). I think this was our favourite dish, all the seasoning and extra condiments ensured that the mussels kept us coming back for more. The extensive list of ingredients make it sound like it will be extremely rich and exotic, however I think they use small amounts of everything, allowing subtle flavours rather than the bold use of coriander, lime and chilli at Chin Chin.

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On a side note, after perusing a long and overwhelming drinks list, I went for a lychee lemongrass martini ($19, above, right) as I always enjoy the taste of lychee juice. It pretty much tasted like a classic martini infused with lychee, with some lychees in there too. You can browse through their cocktail list here, and see that you can even choose your own flavours for a frozen daiquiri.

Lastly, we ordered the pork spare ribs marinated with roasted chilli & soy ($23.50, below). They were chilli but not overbearingly so. The sauce merely tasted like your regular Asian chilli sauce, and I don’t feel like it went well with the ribs so I ate the ribs on its own. They were quite crispy and a good degree of salty, merely messy to eat in such a fancy atmosphere! And the serving was humungous, granted we did order the mussels and the ribs from the “Large Dishes” menu.

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As usual, the waitress was amazed at how much we ordered and even more amazed when she returned at the end and not a speck was left. I enjoyed the service quite a lot, as the dining area isn’t that large, it feels more intimate and like you are receiving more attention. Even though it was a Friday night, they were quite prompt and helpful at recommending dishes and the best way to enjoy them. However, a small note, they did recommend roti to enjoy with our dishes, although I don’t really feel it fit anywhere. It was a bit plain/soggy, so I would go with rice next time.

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The dessert dishes didn’t really appeal to me and I thought we should instead save our stomachs for a trip to N2 Extreme Gelato. Thus, instead of surprising the waitress even more, we received our bill in a very cute Peter Pan book. For some reason I enjoyed this immensely, as the book was still intact, and flipping through reminded me of childhood days on a very carefree Friday night!

Cookie is located First Floor/252 Swanston Street (same building as Rooftop Bar), and is open 12pm – 1am Sun-Thu and 12pm – 3am Fri-Sat. Find the menu here.

Cookie on Urbanspoon